Nigerian fintech startup Vella Finance is ceasing all cryptocurrency services to become a digital bank for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In an email on Monday, Vella announced it will shut down its crypto trading, deposits, wallets and other offerings on October 30th. The move comes just over a year after Vella launched to enable crypto spending and payments for African businesses.
While Vella already services SMEs, it will now focus fully on providing end-to-end banking solutions tailored to small businesses. Co-founder Tolu Adedayo said the pivot is driven by the need to operate within regulatory confines as a bank.
“Banking requires playing in regulatory confines. We already serve businesses from the onset with data. It makes sense to offer a full banking system to serve them better,” Adedayo told TechCabal.
One of Vella’s key products is Launch by Vella, which helps Nigerian SMEs formally register their businesses for a fee of around $14. Adedayo explained the switch also aims to fulfil the needs of informal SMEs, which drive much of Nigeria’s GDP but lack access to financial services.
Vella helps these businesses formalise and get instant business bank accounts and payment infrastructure to enable online collections. It also provides free invoicing and payment links.
According to Adedayo, Vella will roll out more features catered to SME banking needs in the coming weeks as it fully focuses on this sector.
The transition from crypto to SME banking aligns with Vella’s goal of driving financial inclusion and growth for small businesses in Nigeria. By pivoting to formal banking tailored for the sector, Vella hopes to fill a critical gap for the country’s informal and underserved enterprises.